An increasing amount of Mass Effect 4 news is trickling out of the Bioware Montreal studios, where the game is in development.
Although there isn't a huge amount of concrete details surrounding the game's storyline or location, Bioware is definitely building the hype around the game ahead of its as yet unconfirmed release date.
Until we know more, we've collated all the ME4 gossip in one handy place.
Mass Effect 4 release dateDespite confirming that Mass Effect 4 is definitely in production, Bioware haven't offered any indication of a release date for the title. Not even a vague year of release either, much to our annoyance.
While there's no confirmed release date for the new Mass Effect, it will likely launch for the next-generation PS4 and Xbox One consoles and potentially for PC, too. Given this, it's reasonable to expect it to launch some time in 2014.
Mass Effect 4 newsBioware is just teasing us with these new Mass Effect 4 pictures...
The guys over at Bioware have issued a series of tweets teasing the upcoming Mass Effect game, but the tantalising images actually reveal very little about the game.
Various Mass Effect 4 developers released the Twitter pics, starting with the tagline: "The next Mass Effect is upon us!" They also added there will be "new characters to fall in love with", "new enemies to encounter" and "new worlds to explore".
Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect game, rounded off the tweets with a celebration of N7 Day 2013, saying:
"We continue working hard to create amazing new Mass Effect experiences for you. Happy N7 Day everyone! #N7Day13".
Take a look at the pictures they released...
Read more - Mass Effect 4 teaser pictures released by Bioware - November 8
Mass Effect 3 may have been the last we see of Shepard. Ever.
According to Mass Effect 3 writer Mac Walters, Mass Effect 4 may not relate directly to the existing Mass Effect trilogy "at all, whatsoever".
So that means ME3 might really be the end of Shepard as we know him/her, and we suppose this fits with the fact the next Mass Effect will take place in a "fresh and new universe."
"Well, I can't get into details, but the idea is that we have agreed to tell a story that doesn't relate necessarily to any of the Shepard events at all, whatsoever," explained Walters. "That's what we've been deciding for a while. But throughout it all, one of the key things is that it has to be Mass Effect."
"It can't just feel like a spin-off. It has to feel like a Mass Effect game at its heart, at its core. Just without the Shepard character or the Shepard specific companions".
Read more - Mass Effect 4 may not relate to Shepard storyline or characters in any way - October 16
Mass Effect 4 has reached a major milestone, we don't know what it is though
The Bioware boys have been exchanging high-fives over the progress of Mass Effect 4, saying the game is at a "milestone review" point.
Michael Gamble, Producer on the Mass Effect franchise and Casey Hudson, Executive Producer of the Mass Effect series, have been tweeting back and forth sharing the game's successful developmental stages with eager fans.
"In a milestone review for next Mass Effect game. Team is doing outstanding work. Looks beautiful, fun, ambitious and Mass Effect-y!" said Hudson.
"What's even more fun than working on the design of a new fictional work? Taking our first steps into it and looking around," Hudson had earlier tweeted, suggesting the game is well into development.
Later, Gamble tweeted a virtual high-five to colleague Hudson, adding: "I like it when a plan comes together. Especially a Mass Effect plan."
It's only been six months since Bioware confirmed the game was in production at the Montreal studios, but it seems that the team has been busy creating the next Mass Effect world.
That's all the info we're getting at this point it seems, as the boys didn't give away any storyline or location hints during their online banter session.
Read more - Mass Effect 4 looks "beautiful, fun and ambitious", says Bioware - September 11
BioWare confirms Mass Effect 4 starting development
BioWare has said the game will not be called Mass Effect 4, but until we have any further details, this is the way the game is being identified.
"We are starting to get ready to develop another Mass Effect game, and it's going to be a new thing," said executive producer, Casey Hudson, at the PAX East panel. "We want to be able to give fans an opportunity to get back into the world with these things you've come to know and love about the Mass Effect experience but start something fresh and new - a new way for you to explore the whole universe in Mass Effect."
Other than this tantalising titbit, we know little else about Mass Effect 4, apart from the fact it will be using the Frostbite Engine.
Read more: Mass Effect 4 will be a fresh and new universe experience, says Bioware - March 25 2013
Mass Effect 4 could let you play as Garrus, Grunt, Aria or the Illusive Man
Mass Effect 4 could feature one of the existing Mass Effect series characters as its protagonist, according to discussions by the Bioware developers.
Players could take control of "one of Shepard's most loyal friends", Garrus Vakarian. Casey Hudson, Executive Producer for the Mass Effect series said Garrus has "had some of the most driven personal goals", is "a hero in his own right" and such a "bold and charming" character could make an engaging storyline for ME4.
Meanwhile, Preston Watamaniuk, the Lead Designer for the series, believes basing the game on the Krogan and a melee combat system "could be pretty exciting", potentially letting gamers play as Grunt or Wrex.
Mac Walters, Lead Writer for the Mass Effect series wants to focus on one of the smaller, less developed characters like Aria, The Illusive Man or Kai Leng for example. Mike Gamble, the Mass Effect series' producer, thinks that Javik, the sole surviving Prothean and star of the Mass Effect 3: From Ashes DLC, would steal the Mass Effect 4 spotlight.
Read more: Mass Effect 4 possibilities discussed by Bioware - May 13
BioWare wants your input for the Mass Effect 4 trailer
Studio Director of BioWare Montreal, Yanick Roy, reached out to his Twitter followers to ask for input for the PS4 and Xbox One Mass Effect 4 trailer.
"When we release a teaser trailer for the next ME, like DA3 [Dragon Age 3] just did, what would you like to see? What question would you like answered?" tweeted Roy from his personal account.
The tweet suggests that BioWare has yet to cement many of the storyline features for the upcoming Mass Effect title.
"When the game takes place and who you get to play are very strong trends in your answers," Roy tweeted later after many many responses.
However, seeing as the trailer has yet to be created, we could be looking at a 2015 release date for the game.
Conspicuously absent from E3 2013, Mass Effect 4 wasn't mentioned, with BioWare instead debuting the Dragon Age 3 trailer with a 2014 release date. This again suggests we could be in for quite a wait before the next Mass Effect launches.
Read more - Mass Effect 4: BioWare asks for fan input for Xbox One and PS4 trailer - June 17
Gears of War 3 producer to join Mass Effect team
Chris Wynn, previously Senior Producer for Epic Games, will be moving to a new post at BioWare.
Working as the Senior Development Director for the next Mass Effect game, Wynn has deserted his post as Senior Producer at Epic Games, having worked on Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment.
Announcing his new job on Twitter, Wynn said he was "thrilled to announce" his new role at BioWare.
Wynn will be working under Mass Effect franchise boss Casey Hudson, but will have a huge part to play in the development of the next Mass Effect title.
Read more - Mass Effect 4 team gains Gears of War producer Chris Wynn - July 3
Until we know more, here are a few thoughts about what we'd like to see.
Mass Effect 4 - what we’d like to see1. A prequel exploring Mass Effect history
Games like the new Tomb Raider reboot and Batman Arkham: Origins prove that everybody likes a prequel. The Mass Effect timeline is already littered with important events that have had a serious impact on the story of the original trilogy.
The rise and the fall of the Protheans; The Krogan Rebellions; The Geth Wars; or even the Rachni Wars could serve as excellent settings for the Mass Effect 4 game. Often these events have been diminished to mere bullet points in the Mass Effect codex or brief story points, so Mass Effect 4 could be used to elaborate more.
In this way, some of the stories of the spin-off Mass Effect novels and comics could be given the video game treatment.
2. A sequel exploring what Shepard does in the aftermath
We’ll avoid spoilers for all those who haven’t finished Mass Effect 3, but Mass Effect 4 could explain what happened to Shepard after that ending. Mass Effect 3’s various finales managed to conclude Shepard’s story fairly beautifully, but have also caused many an online argument.
We would love to see what happens to Shepard, but also to the universe itself. What happened to that now redundant technology? What happened to the various races? Mass Effect 4 could have a go at answering some of those questions.
3. Play as an alien
As fond as we are at times of our own human form, Mass Effect 4 could be the chance to explore the universe from the perspective of another species. Imagine playing as a Krogan, Asari, Quarian, Turian or Salarian, instead of a human?
The Mass Effect trilogy featured so many races that the next game could tell any of their stories. In fact, it could be argued that in comparison, Shepard is one of the least interesting characters in the trilogy, which is certainly a nod to BioWare’s ability to create rounded non-player characters.
4. A more personal story
Finally, BioWare could make the whole storyline of Mass Effect 4 a little less grandiose. We’ve already repeatedly saved the universe, so why not take the plot right down to a single character’s more personal quest or at least something a little less epic?
The loyalty quests in the original Mass Effect Trilogy could be expanded into full length games, or introduce a new character somehow connected to the series’ existing characters.
5. Space Battles
The Mass Effect series missed out on a potentially golden opportunity. In between the planets and asteroids, the universe was an inaccessible expanse. All the space exploration we got to do was watch loading screens between planets or scrounge resources for the war effort.
Mass Effect 4 needs space battles. Indeed, Mass Effect 3 actually had one of the best space battle scenes, but unfortunately we didn’t get to partake in it. BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic features space battles, so why not the next Mass Effect game?
How they approach such space battles could come in a number of formats, but anything better than laboriously scanning planets for resources would be preferable.
What would you like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Mass Effect 4 will most likely be a next-gen console game, so why not read our PS4 and Xbox One reviews.